Larry Bearse - 35 Years

In 2014, Master Gardener volunteers were recognized at the 34th Annual Florida Master Gardener Continued Training Conference. Larry Bearse of Manatee County received special appreciation for his 35 years of volunteering with the program.

  • Larry's wife Marion applied for the Master Gardener program in 1979. Larry came with her to the interview and the extension agent asked him what he would be doing while Marion was here volunteering. Larry replied, "Working in the garden at home." The agent told him to become a Master Gardener too—so he did. Marion got involved in other volunteer organizations and left the Master Gardener program after five years. She now gardens at home, while Larry continues to volunteer as the Master Gardener.
  • At the time of the awards ceremony, Larry has 12,052 hours logged. But he does many activities that he never logs time for; his real time should probably be double this number.
  • Every year, he logged no less than 100 CEUs. As Larry say, "You can never learn enough and as I learn more, some falls out the other ear."
  • In the late 1980s, Larry initiated mobile plant clinics around the county. For the past seven year, he's held two monthly sessions at the Rocky Bluff Library, while training new volunteers to work in the Manatee County Plant Diagnostic Clinic.
  • In 2001, Manatee County Extension started a Master Gardener mentoring program. Larry was a mentor to as many as three new trainees each year.
  • In 2003, Larry started plant identification tours at the Emerson Point Preserve, hiking one weekend a month on both Saturday and Sunday to help residents learn about coastal plants. He has identified over 80 native species in the preserve and created a plant identification binder that the park service uses. The same tour is now in four other county preserves.
  • On December 7, 2004, a proclamation was made for Larry Bearse and Joyce Duckwall (who was also in the 1979 class, now deceased).
  • In 2006, Larry was certified as a Florida Master Naturalist.
  • Also in 2006, Larry made the decision to move to the Ocala area. On Wednesdays, he would drive to the Marion County Extension office to train in their Master Gardener Program, completing the program while still working every Tuesday in the Manatee County Plant Diagnostic Clinic. But the sale of his house fell through and history is what it is.
  • For most of the 35 years, every Tuesday Larry would come into the plant clinic to volunteer his time. He attended every outdoor event, talking to homeowners. He attended every Manatee County Fair in our new demonstration gardens and disseminated information to fair-goers. Larry helps in every program or workshop that we do at the Manatee County Extension Office.